Interview with James Walley, author of The Forty First Wink

Today I’m pleased to have a new guest on the blog for an interview! James Walley is, as the title gives away, the author of The Forty First Wink. It’s being published by Ragnarok Publications, defies easy description and is being reviewed here tomorrow – but for now, let’s meet the man behind all the quirk…

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Arriving in the rainy isle of Great Britain in the late ’70s, James quickly became an enthusiast of all things askew. Whilst growing up in a quaint little one horse town that was one horse short, a steady diet of movies, ’50s sci fi and fantasy fiction finally convinced him to up sticks and move to Narnia — also known to the layman as Wales. Since there was no available qualification in talking lion taming or ice sculpture, he settled for a much more humdrum degree in something vague but practical, and set out to find a talking lion to make an ice sculpture of.

Mystifyingly finding himself behind the desk of a nine to five job, he kept himself sane by singing in a rock band, memorizing every John Carpenter movie ever made, and learning the ancient art of voodoo. Finally deciding to put his hyperactive imagination to good use, he ditched the voodoo and picked up a pen. A few months later, his debut novel, The Forty First Wink, was born. With a clutch of short stories in the offing, James is now loving his new life as an author, and still sings when plied with alcohol or compliments.

He also recently developed a penchant for fiercely embellishing his past. He really was a singer, although The Forty First Wink may not have brought about world peace. Yet.

Hi, James, and welcome! First of all, and this is an important first question – tea or coffee? 

Since I’m British, you may be expecting me to say tea, but I prefer coffee. The more nuclear strength, the better.

Okay! Now let’s chat about yourself a bit. Who is James Walley?

Just some guy who lives in my head. Actually, I live in the UK, I studied literature at university, and I’ve always been a big fan of the written word. Even when I was young, I would have my nose in a book more often than not. Everything from Tolkien to Seuss, which may give an insight into how I write now. I’ve also been a singer in a rock band, and a circus trained juggler. I still do both, but only usually at parties or in the shower. (Juggling in the shower is not for beginners!)

I’m lucky enough to live out in the countryside, which is quiet and distraction free. I can spend a lot of time writing, since it’s just me and my cat here. He doesn’t sing, or juggle.

Can you tell me a bit about your path to becoming a published author? 

As a debut author, it was a case of learning as I went along. As the novel neared completion, I started researching publishers, who was looking, and what they were looking for. I also found a wonderful and supportive community of authors on various social media sites, who gave me a lot of advice about how best to get my work out there. That was so useful, since it was all new to me, and of course you hear all sorts of horror stories about multiple rejections, and endless waiting for responses. Luckily, I was able to find a home for the book at Ragnarok Publications relatively quickly.

Now, I’ve recently picked up your book, The Forty First Wink, and it’s got quite an interesting premise! How would you explain or describe the book to interested parties?

That’s a tough one! There are a lot of genres spliced together in one big, crazy story. Fantasy, humour, adventure, horror, there’s even a bit of a quirky love story in there too. It’s basically a tale of boy dreams world. Imagine discovering that you’ve physically woken up inside your own dreamspace. All the fun, bizarre possibilities, and of course, all the nightmares made real, and out to get you. I wanted to make the story as original, and as mischievously demented as possible, so you can expect a lot of surprises on the journey!

The term “askew reality” has been used to describe its setting… Do you think it’s difficult to maintain a surreal tone in writing?

I suppose it depends on the writer’s view on the world to begin with. I am a huge fan of Douglas Adams, and his ability to come up with totally off the wall concepts. I think that it’s just a case of letting your imagination do what it does best. It works well in a dream-like setting, because anything can and will happen, and you can have a lot of fun creating larger than life, outrageous characters to match.

There are certain elements (and locations…) in the book that I’d consider pretty frightening. What scares you the most, phobia or nightmare-wise?

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who isn’t at least a little freaked out by clowns. Personally, the thought of something creeping around in the dark, just out of sight, is very scary. Maybe you hear it giggle in some gloomy, unidentified corner of the room. The impending possibility that a painted, garish face might pop into view at any moment. I am a bit of a horror movie buff, so I must admit to kind of liking that feeling. It’s a buzz, like being on a rollercoaster. At least that’s what I tell myself whenever I’m trapped in a dark room with a killer clown.

Moving along from the creepy-talk, will there be more stories following this one, or is The Forty First Wink a standalone book?

Almost from day one, I have intended this to be a trilogy. I think that books that form part of a series really give you the opportunity to form deeper bonds with the characters. I really came to love some of them, and I want to see them in different situations, locations and predicaments. I already have an mental blueprint of where the story will eventually end up, and I have a lot of exciting ideas for the second book. Basically, I had way too much fun writing The Forty First Wink to just leave it as a stand alone.

What else might we expect to see from you in future? Are you interested in crossing into other genres at any point?

Aside from follow up Wink novels, I have a dark but very tongue in cheek short story called “Santa Claus Wants You Dead” appearing in an upcoming anthology from Fireside Press later in the year, and I’m also working on a sci fi, post apocalyptic novella called “The Late Outdoors” which is similarly quirky. Now that I’ve got the writing bug, I don’t think the tapping on my keyboard will be stopping any time soon.

I would love to write something within a different genre in future, perhaps something horror based, since it has formed a staple of my reading material for many years. I must admit though, it would be hard to keep it serious!

What’s been the best part of the writing/publishing experience so far for you? Are there any entertaining stories you can share about getting this book out into the world? 

In all honesty, it’s been one long ‘best part’, from the moment I started writing the story. Obviously the moment that I got the nod from Ragnarok Publications was the high point, because it’s the culmination of all that hard work and the realisation of a dream, but it’s hard to pinpoint anything that hasn’t been exciting, or a new experience.

I’m not sure if it’s an entertaining story, but one of the main things that really motivated me to get moving with the writing process, and made me think in terms of getting it published, was the not so gentle prodding by friends who had read excerpts of the story as I was writing it. I am very partial to a good cliffhanger, so they would read snippets, and inform me in no uncertain terms that they were suitably cliffhung, and that I needed to get a move on and finish. That was actually a big encouragement, so in their own finger wagging way, they helped me get the book to where it is today.

Okay, thank you very much for answering my questions, and good luck with this book and any that follow it!

You are most welcome, and thank you kindly!

 

The Forty First Wink is out on June 16th from Ragnarok Publications. You can find more information here.

James can be found on Twitter, and has a book page on Facebook.

 

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